Hyde County


Originally formed in 1705 as Wickham Precinct, one of three precincts within the no longer extant expanse of land along the coast known as Bath County. In 1712, Wickham Precinct was named Hyde Precinct in honor of Edward Hyde, who served as governor and lord proprietor in North Carolina from 1711-1712. When Bath was abolished, the boundaries were readjusted and it became Hyde County in 1739. The boundaries continued to shift until 1870, with Hyde undergoing more boundary changes than any other county in the state.

By population, Hyde is the second-smallest county in North Carolina with approximately 4,500 residents. The county’s population peaked at just under 10,000 by the year 1900 and continued to decline throughout the twentieth century. Swan Quarter, the county seat, has a population of just under 300.

Hyde is home to four wildlife refuges: Alligator River, Mattamuskeet, Pocosin Lakes, and Swanquarter refuges. Established in 1932, Swanquarter consists of more than 16,000 acres of marsh and wetlands and is home to a number of waterfowl and one of the northernmost populations of the alligator. Alligator River Refuge spans 152,000 acres across Dare and Hyde counties and was established to preserve pocosin, a type of wetland. Mattamuskeet is home to the state’s largest natural lake and Pocosin Lakes, located in Washington, Hyde, and Tyrrell counties, provides a wealth of opportunities for outdoor recreation, such as hiking and boating.

While Hyde’s ecosystem provides ideal conditions for preservation and wildlife protection, it also lends itself to rich conditions for agriculture and hunting. Hyde has long attracted duck hunters from across the country. Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting are the top employment sectors in the county. Statewide, Hyde ranks 4th for corn and 10th in the state cotton production.

Home to Ocracoke Island, tourism also contributes significantly to the county’s economy. While fewer than 1,000 residents live year-round on the island, during the peak tourist month, thousands flock to the island daily. Surrounded by the Pamlico Sound and The Atlantic, Ocracoke Island is accessible only by ferry and is considered one of the most remote places in the Outer Banks. Born in part from its isolation, the island developed a unique accent known as “Hoi Toider” or the Ocracoke Brogue, that dates back to the 1600s. Linguists liken this accent to the closest example we have to English used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. NC State linguistics professor Walt Wolfram estimates this dialect will disappear in the next 50 years.

A favorite for artists and writers over the years, the island is also home to a large number of art galleries which can be found on the western side of the island, along with charming local restaurants and boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts. Like Corolla, Ocracoke is home to the wild Banker horses that have resided along NC’s coast since the sixteenth century. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the “Ocracoke Wild Ponies” by taking a trip to the National Park Service’s Ocracoke Pony Pen.

While Democrats perform well on Ocracoke Island, the county favors Republicans. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden both won on the island, however, the county went for Donald Trump by 14% and 15% in 2016 and 2020, respectively. In 2022, Ted Budd carried the county by more than 19%.


Elected Officials

County Data